Sometimes ringing in your ears is a good thing. It might mean a call from a loved one or a jackpot on the slot machines. Other times, that persistent sound in your ears can drive you to distraction.
If you’re hearing constant ringing in your ears you can’t attribute to an external source, you may be experiencing tinnitus. Even more than learning what it is or how to treat it, you’ll probably want to know, “Does tinnitus go away?”
The short answer is: Maybe. Keep reading to learn more about tinnitus and get some insight on the things you may be wondering, like: When does tinnitus go away? How long does it last? Does tinnitus go away by itself? Will it affect hearing permanently?
What Is Tinnitus?
In simplest terms, tinnitus is a continual sound that isn’t being caused by anything external. In most cases, only you can hear the sound (although one notable exception is if you have a heart murmur; your doctor may be able to detect a whooshing sound with your heartbeat).
The sound has been described in many ways. It’s often ringing or buzzing, but it’s also been identified as clicking, whistling, hissing, humming or even a roar. You might notice your left ear ringing first (or your right; there’s no specific pattern). Or both ears might start ringing at once.
Tinnitus is a relatively common problem affecting 15% to 20% of people, especially older adults.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be the result of exposure to a sudden loud noise or ongoing exposure in a noisy environment. Tinnitus can be associated with certain medications, and in some cases, tinnitus is a symptom of age-related hearing loss.
Other potential causes include significant earwax, an ear or sinus infection, an injury, hormonal changes, chronic conditions like diabetes or thyroid problems, and in rare cases, a tumor. Tinnitus is also a common symptom of Meniere’s disease, a disorder that affects your inner ear and sense of balance. Sometimes, there’s no clear cause at all.
How Can Tinnitus Go Away?
Tinnitus may come on suddenly or gradually worsen over time. In some cases, tinnitus lasts only minutes or hours. In other cases, it may never fully stop. It may disappear on its own, or slowly fade over the course of weeks or months.
You probably won’t be able to do anything to stop the tinnitus itself, but you may be able to treat the cause, and there are treatment options to reduce the impact on your life.
Some signs that tinnitus is going away include shorter, less frequent periods of ringing and sound that is less intrusive or noticeable. If you notice you’re able to concentrate better and sleep without your tinnitus bothering you, you may be close to finding relief when tinnitus does go away.
Tips for Managing and Treating Tinnitus
Even if it doesn’t typically cause physical harm or permanently damage your hearing, chronic tinnitus (tinnitus that lasts more than six months) can be especially burdensome if it disrupts sleep or affects your mental health, triggering anxiety, depression or other mental or emotional problems.
If you develop the condition, it’s a good idea to see your doctor and get an answer to the question, “Why are my ears ringing?” It’s especially important to see a doctor if your tinnitus is accompanied by other symptoms, like respiratory problems, hearing loss or dizziness. Your doctor will try to pinpoint the cause, including ruling out any of the more serious conditions associated with tinnitus.
There is no cure and no effective drug treatment, but you may be able to get relief using one or a combination of methods. One option is tinnitus sound therapy, which may include masking (using a device similar to a hearing aid to produce white noise) or a tabletop sound generator that produces soothing sounds to focus on instead of the ringing. A more involved version of sound therapy is acoustic neural stimulation, in which an acoustic signal embedded in music stimulates your brain and desensitizes you to the offensive sound caused by tinnitus.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy, biofeedback and stress therapy are other treatment options, and antidepressants and antianxiety medications can help lessen the impact of tinnitus on your mental health.
Find Care You Can Count On
When you have a bothersome medical concern, the last thing you want to do is start searching for professionals who can help. Residents of Fellowship Village have convenient access to Fellowship Medical Group’s fully staffed Medical Center right on campus, so they can get quick help with treating tinnitus — or any other problem that arises. Contact us to learn more about the resources and living options we offer seniors in the greater Somerset County area.